By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Charles Gibbs said it can be discouraging sometimes.
In his 23 years of doing street evangelism at Mardi Gras in Mobile he hears the same questions on repeat in his mind in moments of weariness: Does it do any good? Did the people who made decisions for Christ really mean it?
But this year those questions got silenced when Je’Mekia Dale showed up and asked for his wife, Vanita, by name.
Back in 2007, Vanita Gibbs met Dale — then 16 — and shared the gospel with her. She accepted Christ.
And now 12 years later, after being discipled and growing in her faith at a local church, Dale decided to come back with a tent of her own and share with others. She came back to the spot where she’d met Jesus all those years before.
And much to her amazement Vanita Gibbs was still there.
“I’m overjoyed — my heart jumped for joy when I saw her,” Vanita Gibbs said. “All day long I watched as she talked with women on the street and led them to Christ. It’s just God’s story and for me it was a huge confirmation.”
Charles Gibbs, pastor of West Mobile Baptist Church, said he felt the same way — that it was a year of confirmation. It didn’t stop with Dale — it only started there.
Three women who had prayed to receive Christ at their tent at a past Mardi Gras brought their children by this year, and one of the women brought her husband too. He and all the children prayed to receive Christ.
“We don’t do it for the confirmation — we do it out of obedience,” Charles Gibbs said.
But the confirmation is definitely encouraging, he said.
This year, like previous years, the Gibbses came together with other Mobile Baptists and volunteers from as far away as Georgia and North Carolina to “shine a light” into the darkness of Mardi Gras.
They’ve shared the gospel with creative outreach tools like balloons, sketch boards and rope tricks, using them to illustrate the life of Christ and the need for redemption. This year alone nearly 50 people said they wanted to follow Christ with their lives.
Thomas Wright, executive director of missions for Mobile Baptist Association, said he and his wife, Donna, have been there for most of the last 14 years and have seen God at work.
Surprisingly many who hear the gospel there hear it for the very first time, he said.
“This year three revelers approached the tent to receive a power band bracelet. Donna walked through the colored beads explaining the gospel of Jesus. Two of the three accepted Jesus,” Wright said.
At the event teams share Jesus with “hundreds of people and many years see upwards of 300 decisions,” he said, noting that it was impactful for the more than a dozen Mobile Association churches who participated too.
“Evangelistic ministry events help people interact with many unbelievers and hone gospel presentation skills,” Wright said. “The experience helps churches take those outreach skills into their community all year long.”